8 Top Tips for an India Tiger Safari

Natural World Safaris

14 May 2013

India Wildlife Holiday Top Tips

This is a list of 8 things which I’m either glad I had/did or wish I had/did during my recent trip to India with Natural World Safaris.

Tip #1. Don’t rely on your guide

Many of the naturalists in India are incredible. They can hear a single alarm call from a great distance over the combined din of the jeep’s engine and the rest of the jungle. When you’re being driven around the tiger reserves in India it’s incredibly easy to become detached and allow your eye line to be entirely dictated by your guide’s notes and instructions. It’s also very each to follow your guides eyes, assuming that they have some inside knowledge about where the sightings are going to pop up. The truth is - they don’t, and trust me when they see something they’ll let you know immediately, so don’t be afraid to look the other way and you never know you might get lucky!

My advice is to really get involved and try to discern the different deer and langur alarm calls from the broad-spectrum of jungle noises. You’re not going to become an expert overnight but it certainly adds to the whole experience. 

Tip #2. Neck support

Nothing can put a damper on a tiger encounter like a stiff neck. International flights are not always conducive to a good night’s sleep. Some of the longer transfers are the perfect opportunity to have a quick catnap to make sure you’re wide awake for those early morning safaris.  

Tip #3. Bring entertainment

Sometimes it’s easy to forget that you’re on a holiday. The majority of the roads in India are great and a good book (or several books on an eReader) is a great way to pass the time. Get under the skin of the country with an Indian-based novel like Shantaram, The God of Small Things, Midnight’s Children or the Life of Pi. 

Tip #4. Bring something to protect your camera

You’ll soon discover that when you’re in hot pursuit another jeep to a tiger sighting that the park vehicles can kick up a lot of dust. Experienced photographers or wildlife enthusiasts should bring something to protect their lenses and expensive equipment. It’s incredibly exciting when the guide turns round to you to say ‘hold tight’, but make sure that your camera is still functional when you reach the action. 

Tip #5. Never say ‘no’ to a toilet break

After the combination of the local cuisine, the bumpy roads, the heat and the early starts, it’s really difficult to determine how much water you’re taking on and losing throughout the day. Game drives take around 3-4 hours and believe me you don’t want to be caught short in a park where a man-eater or a notoriously brutal sloth bear could be sleeping behind the next tree. 

Tip #6. Pack layers

This is one for all areas of the globe. Even in April where you’ll be warned of temperatures in the 40s, morning drives can be chilly. Park opening hours are determined by sunrise and sunset and when you’re driving along in open top jeep before the sun has had time to warm up your surroundings you’ll be thankful for the extra layers you can shed by the time you finish your game drive. 

Tip #7. Pack antiviral hand wash

You never know when impromptu bush dinners and mid-morning safari snacks will be served. If you want to give yourself the best chance of not getting ‘Delhi-belly’ pack this little lifesaver. 

Tip #8. Pack less

Laundry services are readily available at many of the hotels and lodges that I stayed at along my trip. When I unpacked I found lots of clothes that didn’t even see the light of day during my trip. If you have two pieces of clothing that fulfil the same purpose my advice is to just take one and save yourself the extra packing and more room for souvenirs!

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Comments

Alex Castle

17/5/2013 7:00 AM

Interesting tips Dr. Kumar. Extremely clever way of retrieving personal items from a coiled up python as well!

Dr. P. Kumar

16/5/2013 1:30 PM

Some of the tips I usually recommend & do employ myself too : 1. To cover my cameras etc I invariably use a sheet of very light, waterproof fabric (polythenes or plastics may not be allowed in the parks). This saves the equipment not just from dust from from sudden downpour as well. For the afternoon safaris, a wet towel (not dripping though) keep yourself cool too, and once a bit dry, it can keep yr camera equipment cool as well. 2. The game drives can be pretty exhausting & strenuous too ... diabetics are well-advised to carry enough emergency 'sugar' with them. More than once I had to cut short our safaris 'coz of some clients' apparent hypoglycemic condition. 3. You're not allowed to get down from yr safari vehicle. A double-side adhesive tape & a stick may be the two essential items to pick-up small items that you happen to drop from your vehicle. I once was thus able to retrieve a roll of film that had slipped off from my hands, and had gone straight into a python-hole, to land right in the middle of the body of a coiled up python ! 4. Tip your guide/driver the first thing on the first day at the time of your first safari. It works more often than not. And, let your displeasure be very clear & stern if you feel that either of them didn't try hard enough. Provide your guide the best perch in the safari vehicle, and make sure he is standing and alert ALWAYS ! 5. Though you aren't allowed to smoke in the park, a coffee hot-pot comes in fairly handy to calm strained bodies ... do have your coffee ... but don't get too relaxed !

Will

14/5/2013 12:00 AM

Great tips Al! I read Shantaram on my rounds of India...a great book and made the long transfers pass by much quicker.

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